Inpatient care is responsible for the largest portion of health care spending in the U.S. From 2001 to 2007, inflation-adjusted hospital costs rose by 24.6% to $343 billion. During this period, there was a 17.2% increase in mean costs per stay, and a 6.3% rise in the number of hospital discharges. The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality presented national data on conditions with the most rapidly increasing hospital inpatient costs between 2001 and 2007.
- Among the 10 conditions with the most rapidly increasing inpatient costs, septicemia had the greatest percent change for total costs at 174%, and the highest total cost at $12.3 billion in 2007.
- Several chronic conditions with high aggregate costs and frequent hospitalization, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, were not among the top 10 conditions with the greatest increases in total costs.
- Cost increases varied by payer. While discharges incurred for private insurance demonstrated the largest increase in mean cost per stay at 20.8%, there was a decline in the number of stays for the privately insured. Conversely, the average cost per hospitalization for Medicaid and uninsured patients rose fairly slowly at about 14%, but the number of hospital stays rose dramatically (20.1% for Medicaid, 29.9% for the uninsured).
- Degenerative joint disease was the most expensive condition among the top 10 growers for the privately insured in 2007, at $4.6 billion. Total hospitalization costs for this condition more than doubled from 2001 to 2007.
- Costs for treating uninsured patients with septicemia rose 228% from 2001-2007, compared to 192% for Medicaid patients, 172% for Medicare patients and 153% for privately insured patients.
- Total costs for hospitalizations due to intestinal infection and acute kidney failure both increased by 148%, but the number of hospital stays for these two conditions differed. Stays for intestinal infection grew by 70%, while those for acute kidney failure grew 178%.
- The number of stays for intestinal infection for Medicare patients grew by 142%, a much higher rate of growth than for the uninsured (67%), Medicaid-covered, (39%) or privately insured (22%).